Literary matchmaking

Literary matchmaking

Literary matchmaking: matching readers with the right books, one week at a time

The details on this ongoing project, and the factors I’m taking to heart.

Readers told me 3 books they loved, 1 book they hated, and what they’re reading right now. In turn, I’m choosing 1 mainstream pick, 1 eccentric pick, and 1 YA/memoir/nonfiction pick for each reader. (Or more, if I can’t help myself.)

This week we’re choosing books for Em, Erin, and Kirsten.


Love: A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Girl Meets God, Blue Like Jazz
Didn’t care for: One Thousand Gifts
Last read: Going Clear, Strange Fire

My picks: 

Spiritual memoir: Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
Eccentric: Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts
If you have the tiniest bit of interest in L’Engle: Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices
Journalistic: Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal

Literary matchmaking: matching readers with the right books, one week at a time | Modern Mrs Darcy

Em thought she’d be hard to pick books for, so I’m a little scared! She loves spiritual memoir and straight-talking nonfiction, and Pastrix, though a little too-cool-for-it’s-own-good in places, seems right up her alley. Em’s a journalist, and Ballad of the Whiskey Robber is a real-life caper that’s more outrageous than fiction. (Don’t let the ugly title put you off.)

Listening for Madeleine has a fascinating structure: it’s a composite portrait of L’Engle, drawn through more than 50 interviews with those who knew her best. And Hatching Twitter is a you-just-can’t-make-this-stuff-up account of twitter’s early days—a good choice for a social media manager.


Love: The Goldfinch, A Moveable Feast, 100 Years of Solitude
Hated (despised!): Gone Girl
Last read: The Fault in Our Stars, The Great Gatsby

My picks: 

Mainstream: Rules of Civility
Modern classic: How to Cook a Wolf
Risky pick: The Paris Wife

Literary matchmaking: matching readers with the right books, one week at a time | Modern Mrs Darcy

Erin, you’re fun to pick books for. Rules of Civility (from the reading guide!) is another literary work that makes you feel like you’re rushing through NYC, like The Goldfinch and Gatsby

Erin clearly isn’t afraid of old or slower-paced books, so I’m recommending MFK Fisher’s 1942 classic How to Cook a Wolf. The Paris Wife is a risky pick because I didn’t love it, but it’s such a good companion to A Moveable Feast I have to include it.     


Love: The Eyre Affair, The Invention of Wings, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Meh: The Lovely Bones 
Last read: Allegiant, Cuckoos Calling

My picks: 

Mainstream: I Capture the Castle
Kid lit: When You Reach Me
Mystery: Maisie Dobbs

Literary matchmaking: matching readers with the right books, one week at a time | Modern Mrs Darcy

I Capture the Castle‘s charming narrator reminds me of Guernsey’s Juliet, and the books share a similar form: one story is told through letters, the other through journal entries. When You Reach Me shares the time-bending aspect of The Eyre Affair and another book is crucial to both plots.

Maisie Dobbs is the first novel in a British detective series featuring a wartime setting and strong character development, along the lines of Guernsey and The Invention of Wings.

How did I do? What books would YOU recommend to these readers? 

View all the literary matchmaking posts here.

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31 comments | Comment

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  1. I recommend Ella Minnow Pea to Kirsten if she likes Guernsey. It’s not quite as sweeping, but it’s also epistolary and very interesting. To Em, I would suggest Flunking Sainthood by Jana Riess. It starts out a little slow, but in the end I really enjoyed reading it.

    If she hasn’t read anything by Maeve Binchy, I think Erin might like her. Her books have the same family-saga feel as 100 Years of Solitude, which I also love. (Although without the magical realism.) Circle of Friends, Echoes, and Scarlet Feather are some of my favorites.

    • Em Miller says:

      “Flunking Sainthood” has been on my to-read list for a while now. I absolutely love the spiritual practices (and have a running series about them over on my blog). I was so sad I didn’t realize Jana Riess was at the Festival of Faith and Writing until AFTER her session. But that makes this reminder No, 2 to read this book in the past month. Guess I’d better get on that!

    • Kirsten says:

      had to giggle when I said outloud, the name of the book you recommended, so I could remember it when adding it to my goodreads stack! thanks!

  2. Sherri says:

    Slightly off topic, Maisie Dobbs author Jacqueline Winspear became an American citizen this week, and blogs about it at It’s very moving and I particularly liked the story of her mum, the American soldiers, and the chocolates.

    Thanks for your literary matchmaking, which always adds to my “to be read” list.

  3. Candida says:

    3 loved books: Beauty By Robin McKinley. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart.

    1 hated: Kite Runner.

    Most recently finished: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling. (Third time through this one.)

    Just recently found your blog and I’m enjoying it so far. I’ve already seen several books mentioned in your posts that have been added to my reading list. Thanks 🙂

  4. Em Miller says:

    You did great! I’ve been eyeing Pastrix for a while, and a friend actually just gave my husband The Whiskey Robber, so it’s on our shelf. And I’m reading L’Engle ‘ s Walking on Water now, so I may have to follow that with the book you recommended about her. Thanks, friend!

    • Em, have you read Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek? Wondering if you might like it… Also, thankful that there is another soul on the interwebs who didn’t love One Thousand Gifts. 🙂 (I tried, I really did… I love the message but got so distracted by her style).

  5. Amy says:

    Em might like AJ Jacob’s The Year of Living Biblically. He doesn’t profess to be a Christian, and there’s not the spiritual application of Rachel Held Evans’s book, but it’s a similar year-long life experiment based on the Bible, with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor and interesting insight.

  6. Anne says:

    I get so many great-looking suggestions on this blog! They must be good books….none of them were available in the digital section of my library alliance. I’ll have to be patient. 🙂 Used up all my holds.

  7. Ashley says:

    I love this project, what an awesome idea! I’m def going to check out some of the books above, and add them to my kindle wish list.

    Love (this was hard to pick only 3!!!)-
    1) Hunger Games
    2) Lovely Bones
    3) The Help

    1) Harry Potter- I read about 70 pages into it and could not get into it at all. 🙁

    Just read/currently reading
    1) Heaven is for Real- AMAZING one of my top books as well.
    2) Currently reading- Not a Fan (Kyle Idleman)

  8. Ginger says:

    I have a question for Anne, or other readers: I saw you recommend I Capture the Castle. I didn’t really love the movie. Is the book better/worth reading?

    I usually like to read the book before a movie, but I saw it years ago, and guess I didn’t realize there was a book beforehand.

  9. Mallory says:

    How can I submit my books for a match? I’m struggling to find something awesome, and goodreads and amazon just are not cutting it.

    • Anne says:

      Mallory, I closed the queue because it was overwhelming me (200 requests, yowzers!). I’m currently thinking through options. Stay tuned!

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